Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nigeria: Captain, Engineer Abducted Off US-Registered Commercial Vessel

According to The Associated  Press, a US Department of Defense official reports that armed pirates kidnapped the captain and engineer, both US citizens, off of a US-registered commercial vessel yesterday (October 23) off the coast of Nigeria.

The abduction occurred in international waters in the Gulf of  Guinea close to the Nigerian coast.

The official says the two US mariners were kidnapped from the vessel, C-Retriever and reportedly taken ashore to Nigeria.

In another development, Reuters reports that the C-Retriever, an oil supply vessel owned by US-owned Edison Chouest Offshore was seized on Wednesday with only the two Americans being abducted, after which the vessel was released. C-Retriever is 222-foot in length (67 meters).

COMMENT: Pirate attacks off Nigeria's coast have jumped by a third this year as ships passing through West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, have come under threat from pirates wanting to seize both cargoes and crews.

"The piracy threat is spreading even further through the waters of West Africa, and the attacks have been mounting, even as global rates of reported piracy are at their lowest since 2006," said Michael Frodl of U.S.-based consultancy C-Level Maritime Risks.

Kidnapped mariners and oil workers taken in Nigerian coastal waters are usually released after a ransom demand is paid.

Increasingly, as commercial vessels continue to carry armed guards, many of those who do not, are particularly vulnerable to abductions of crew members that can bring in seven-figure ransom payments (e.g., Americans, Canadians and Europeans).